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Man receives £80,000 in damages after fall leads to severe depression
A labourer who has not been able to work for more than three years after falling down a flight of concrete stairs has received £80,000 in an out of court settlement.
Jonathan Sewell, a workplace accident specialist at Fentons Solicitors LLP, said the accident had a profound effect on the London man’s mental health, which deteriorated to such an extent that he was barely able to leave his home, let alone return to work.
“My client, who is in his 50s, was working on a building site in North London,” said Jonathan, a partner at the firm. “Whilst going down a flight of stairs to collect tools from a basement, he tripped on a pile of loose electrical cables that had been left lying across the steps and were hidden from view.
“Having landed heavily on his right hand side and lower back, he was in so much pain he couldn’t move for more than 10 minutes,” added Jonathan. “After he eventually managed to crawl back up the stairs to summon help, he was given morphine and taken to hospital by ambulance where he was diagnosed with a fractured pelvis and a sprained lower back.”
Following his discharge from hospital, the father-of-two was virtually bed-bound for the next three weeks. He spent a further three months having to rely on the care of his wife for all his day-to-day needs, during which time he suffered near constant lower back pain and was unable to bend down or walk for any distance without suffering pain.
“When my client was finally able to begin a course of physiotherapy, his injuries slowly began to improve,” said Jonathan. “Unfortunately however, his frustration at having to rely on his wife and his ongoing inability to work and support his young family had a severely damaging effect on his mental health.”
Following numerous trips to his doctor, the full psychological impact of the man’s accident became more and more apparent. After he developed severe depression and anxiety, his psychiatric symptoms progressively deteriorated over the next several months to the point where he was barely able to leave his house.
“Before the accident, my client worked extremely hard to support his family,” said Jonathan. “But because he was self-employed, the more time he spent away from work, the less money he had to support them. Although he wanted nothing more then to return to his job to keep ahead of his mounting bills he simply could not on account of his declining mental health.”
After a Department for Work and Pensions assessment ruled the man was mentally unfit for work, his doctor prescribed him medication and referred him for intensive therapy and counselling which continued for more than 12 months.
“Unfortunately, the injury my client suffered to his back and pelvis has ruled him out of returning to the kind of heavy manual labour work he enjoyed previously,” said Jonathan. “However, despite his ongoing psychological difficulties he has tried to get back into some form of work including a job in the voluntary sector.
“My client’s accident has had a devastating impact and has completely changed his life,” added Jonathan. “The firm he was contracting for ultimately failed in their responsibility to minimise the risk of falls and ensure a safe working environment. As a result, he can no longer do the kind of work he is trained in and he continues to suffer the effects his accident has had upon his mental health.”
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